MANILA - Senatorial candidate Gary Alejano on Sunday warned of possible Chinese meddling in the country’s elections as Beijing seeks to retain its closeness with Manila after gaining President Rodrigo Duterte as an ally.
Alejano, representative of Magdalo party-list and a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, said "there’s a clear possibility that Chinese money would pour in the country and influence elections."
"They did that before 2016. When other countries like China and Russia are doing that, it’s not open. These are special operations in trying to influence policies, economy and culture in a country,” Alejano said at the sidelines of “Harapan 2019: The ABS-CBN Senatorial Town Hall Debate.”
“Maliwanag sa atin iyan. Pumapasok tayo sa bitag ng China. In exchange for what? Loans from China? Good relationship? We are becoming dependent and controlled by China.”
Since assuming the presidency, Duterte has chosen to forge closer ties with China despite the two nations’ bitter dispute over the South China Sea. The thawing of ties between the two neighbors has also rattled Washington’s long-standing alliance with Manila.
Alejano said a potential presidential run for Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, would most likely get China’s backing.
“It is perpetuation to power to protect their tracks, and at the same time, to protect their interests. Kasi ang dami nilang violations right now,” he said of the Duterte administration.
Duterte-Carpio has kept her doors open for a possible presidential run, saying she will decide by January 2021. But the feisty mayor said she does not want to be called as the “next president” as this would make her the subject of smear campaigns.
Alejano, a former military man who joined a mutiny against former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has been critical of Duterte’s closeness with China, saying this has compromised Philippine interests in the South China Sea.
Aside from Duterte’s South China Sea policy, he also slammed the President’s tolerance for the proliferation of Chinese workers in the country and Manila’s growing dependence on Chinese loans.
“Clearly, our sovereignty is compromised dahil hindi mo na pinu-pursue ang sarili mong interest, which is pagbigay ng trabaho sa Pilipino," he said.
"The President should be at the forefront in addressing corruption in the country, hindi yung siya ang magto-tolerate. If our economy is dependent on contracting loans to China, kaya ka niyang gipitin kung gusto niya."
The lawmaker said he and fellow members of opposition slate Otso Diretso are hoping to win in the Senate to frustrate policies of the President that are detrimental to Filipinos.
“I believe right now, I can see Otso Diretso is gaining traction. Importante kasi itong May 2019 elections eh. It would pave the way for whatever plans Duterte has in the coming years.”